Christiaan Huygens Biography

Christiaan Huygens was a renowned mathematician, physicist and astronomer. Read on to know more about Christiaan Huygens’s profile, childhood, life and timeline in this biography.

Christiaan Huygens

Quick Facts

Gender: Male
Birthday: 14 April 1629
Died: 08 June 1695
Nationality: Dutch
Famous: Astronomers
Sun Sign: Aries
Spouse/Ex-: Susanna Hoefnagel
Father: Constantijn Huygens
Mother: Suzanna van Baerle
Siblings: Lodewijck Huygens, Constantijn Huygens, Philips Huygens, Susanna Huygens
Education: Leiden University

Christiaan Huygens was a renowned mathematician, physicist and astronomer who lived in 17th century. He is famous for the numerous contributions he made to several domains of science. Discovery of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn took his name to heights. He is also remembered for his works like wave theory, pendulum clock, wave theory etc. Huygens-Fresnel principle was instrumental in learning about the wave-particle duality.

Early Life & Career

Christiaan Huygens was born in The Hague on 14 April 1629 as son to Constantijn Huygens and Suzanna van Baerle. Huygens joined the University of Leiden and the College of Orange to study law and mathematics respectively. He started his career as a diplomat and then turned to science. In 1663 Huygens became a member of Royal Society. He then moved to Paris in 1666 and joined French Academy of Sciences. In the meantime, he developed an interest in Astronomy and used Paris Observatory for his astronomical observations.
Huygens believed in extraterrestrial life and wrote a book on the same, Cosmotheoros. In this book he discussed about his notions about the existence of life in other planets. His works on probability, wave theory, clocks etc. not only provided new insights about science, but also paved path for many other researches and finding by scientists after his time. He discovered a new technique to measure stellar distances and also observed the transit of Mercury over the Sun. The fact that he made these discoveries in a time when science was in a phase development and there were not many appropriate apparatuses to conduct researches proves that he was indeed a genius. This great scientist succumbed to death on 8 July 1695.

Major Works

In 1659 Huygens came up with formula for centripetal force.
In 1657 Huygens published his first book on the probability theory titled ‘De ratiociniis in ludo aleae’ ("On Reasoning in Games of Chance").
His most important work the wave theory of light, presented at the France's Royal Académie des sciences in 1678 was published in 1690.
Huygens invented a pendulum clock which he patented in 1657.
Huygens most important work on horology was published in 1673 titled, Horologium Oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum, his greatest work on horology.
Huygens worked on the internal combustion engines 1n 1973. Though he failed to build a fully functioning internal combustion engines, he succeeded in coming up with a basic design of internal combustion engine, fueled by gunpowder.
Apart from patenting a pocket watch in 1675 he invented several devices such as the 31-tone-to-the-octave keyboard instrument.
In 1655 Huygens stated that the Saturn is surrounded by "a thin, flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic.”
Huygens’s drawing of the Orion nebula, was published in 1659 for the first time in Systema Saturnium. Apart from this he also discovered a few double stars and numerous interstellar nebulae. With the help of the latest telescope he was able to split the nebula into different stars.
Huygens along with the prominent astronomers Thomas Streete and Richard Reeves observed the transit of Mercury over the Sun on May 3, 1661.
He designed an element eyepiece designed which was considered to be one of the very first steps in the development of the achromatic lens.
He also came up with a theory which was later termed as the Huygens-Fresnel Principle was extremely useful in the study of wave-particle duality.Legacy
During the Cassini–Huygens mission the lander for the Titan, the moon of Saturn was named after Huygens.
‘Asteroid 2801’ also bears his name.
There is a crater on Mars named after this brilliant astronomer.
There is a mountain on the Moon known as Mons Huygens.
A sophisticated microscope image processing software was named after him.
The Huygens–Fresnel principle, a simple model to understand disturbances in wave propagation.
The brighter interior of the Orion Nebula is known as Huygens Region.

Timeline

1629: Christiaan Huygens was born on14 April at The Hague, Dutch Republic.
1655: Stated that the Saturn is surrounded by a thin, flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic.
1657: Huygens published his first book on the probability theory titled ‘De ratiociniis in ludo aleae’ ("On Reasoning in Games of Chance")
1659: Came up with formula for centripetal force.
1659: Huygens’s drawing of the Orion nebula was published.
1661: Along with the prominent astronomers Thomas Streete and Richard Reeves, he observed the transit of Mercury over the Sun on May 3.
1663: He became a member of Royal Society.
1666: He moved to Paris and joined French Academy of Sciences.
1675: Invented the 31-tone-to-the-octave keyboard instrument.
1695: Huygens succumbed to death on 8 July.

Citation Information

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Christiaan Huygens Biography

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Last Updated

June 24, 2019

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